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9 Top Tips to Create an Awesome Service Catalogue

Posted By Rebecca L. Beach, 31 May 2016
Updated: 31 May 2016


Some people will tell you that your Service Catalogue is the most important step in the journey of your ITSM organisation. That’s a lot of pressure.

There’s no denying it’s hugely beneficial to the business (that includes IT!) as it can improve communication between service providers and consumers, increase demand awareness and service visibility. The problem is that when there’s that much pressure it makes it difficult to know where to start.


At ITSMF UK we’ve been developing a new set of workshops and masterclasses and while working on Service Catalogue I started thinking about what my top tips might be to get started. Then I thought why stop there! So I asked some of my favourite ITSM experts what their top tips would be. Check them out below. 

1.     Ian Connelly, Chair at BCS Service Management SIG

The one tip I would suggest is not to try and boil the ocean… Very simply, start small. Either a limited scope (part of an office, datacentre etc.) or selected attributes from each CI, then expand it out.

Too many initiatives have attempted too much too soon, which leads to a feeling of climbing a mountain with the task.


2.     Barry Corless, Business Development Director at Global Knowledge

Service catalogue implementations that fail often do so because we are unsure of the objectives that service catalogue management (the discipline) is aiming to meet.  This leads to building and implementing the wrong tool.

For example, there is a big difference between what a vanilla service catalogue (a list of services) and a service request catalogue (used to drive self-service and automated workflow) will deliver.  Both outcomes are eminently possible using modern toolsets but we must concentrate on what we want service catalogue management to do before rushing headlong into a toolset implementation.  In many respects, the throw backs and similarities to the early days of configuration management and the lust for a CMDB should have taught us valuable lessons.  


3.     James Finister, Global ITSM Strategist at Tata Consultancy Services

Check and double check that the services you put in the catalogue are recognisable to senior managers in the business


4.     Stephen Mann, Writer at Quick Content Ltd

Involve the service catalogue's customers from the outset. It’s clichéd, but getting the right people involved is key. Remember that this is the business’ service catalogue, not IT’s. Thus IT shouldn't drive the look and feel, or content of the service catalogue – the business should. And it’s not a one-time consultation – keep them involved from design through to delivery.

Plus, given the growing pressure on corporate IT organizations to keep up with employee's consumer-world experiences and expectations of technology and service, the user experience and customer experience aspects of self-service and service delivery will be key to service catalogue success. With those responsible for the service catalogue needing to differentiate between the sexy-looking technology, with its great-looking user interface (UI), and how end users actually use and experience the technology and the service it provides. 


5.     Steve Morgan, IT Transformation and SIAM Consultant at Syniad IT Solutions Ltd

Ensure that you understand the business outcome that you expect the Service Catalogue to achieve.  Failure to “begin with the end mind” can lead to huge amounts of time being spent developing massive spreadsheets, that are never used.  For example, the term Service Catalogue can be confusing.  Ensure that you understand whether it is a “request” catalogue or a “business service” catalogue that you’re developing, and ensure that all of those involved in its development understand the definition, to avoid the risk of you veering off track, or producing a document that doesn’t hang together as a single entity.

Be very wary about trying to build a paper version of your CMDB under the guise of a business Service Catalogue.  It may be better to build a data model within your Service Management tool, and build a prototype directly into the tool, rather than trying to import a few thousand lines of Excel!


6.     Barclay Rae, CEO at ITSMF UK

Collaboration and close working will sort out more problems than a perfect design


7.     Stuart Rance, Service Management and Security Management Consultant at Optimal Service Management

Don’t confuse a service catalogue with a request catalogue

Many service catalogue projects fail because IT organizations are confused about what a service catalogue is, and what it should be used for. Every company needs a catalogue to help customers understand what services they offer, and IT is no different. You should create a service catalogue to help your customers understand what services you can provide and help them choose what will be available for their users.  Don’t confuse this service catalogue with the request catalogue that you make available to users so that they can order components of a service. For example, a customer may choose “mobile user support” from your service catalogue. This service could provide phones, tablets, connectivity, an app store and many other things needed to support a mobile workforce. If the customer chooses this service, then you will need to add specific phone models and apps that a user can select to your request catalogue. You need both types of catalogue, but make sure you know which you are trying to create and why.


8.     Matt Hoey, Chair at ITSMF UK Service Transition SIG

One of the difficulties in creating a Service Catalogue is the daunting amount of time it could take.  Tasks such as getting agreement on what goes into it and writing the definitions all take time when you are starting from scratch.  This can lead to a large amount of time elapsing between starting out and customers and Service Management teams getting value from it.

Taking an agile approach (in a nutshell: early minimum viable product and then iterating incrementally through feedback) can help you get something out sooner.  Make a first pass at the catalogue picking out the easily identifiable services, some basic information and put an early version of the catalogue out there.  You may not have all the services identified, or all the definitions written or even all the fields for the definition identified, but why not start using what you have rather than waiting for it to be complete?  In other words, don’t lock away that value whilst you wait for the finished product.  You’ll also get feedback from customers and Service Management teams from the early use which will help you with the further work on the catalogue which you can continue to do incrementally until you’ve built up your catalogue.


And my tip?


9.     I see many people creating what is, in effect, a repository of services. Having a centralised area for this information is good but if that’s all you’re creating it’s a waste of time and effort.

Create your Service Catalogue like you’re going to use it! Think about how and why IT and the business will be using this information and design it accordingly.


What’s your tip for creating an awesome Service Catalogue? Comment below or why not share with the ITSMF UK community on Twitter.



Tags:  Service Catalogue 

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